Bodiwan Papers

Scope and Content

The papers of Michael D. Jones and his family consist of :

Deeds and legal papers dating from the 17th century, relating to various family properties located in Flintshire, Denbighshire and Merioneth. Some items, including rent and account books for 1852-1865, relate to the Plas yn rhal estate, Rhuthun.

Personal correspondence and papers consist of letters mainly, addressed to Michael D. Jones and family members. The diaries of Michael D. Jones are numerous and include details of preaching appointments and journeys to collect money towards the Bala Independent College. Some references are made to the first people to emigrate to Patagonia and an 1882 diary records his own visit to South America. There are also such items as the marriage settlement of Michael D. Jones and Anne Lloyd of Rhuthun, their marriage certificate, and his will.

The papers which relate to the Bala Independent College touch mainly upon the feud which developed between Michael D. Jones, as Principal of the College, and others of the same denomination, which became known as the Battle of the Two Constitutions. There are letters addressed to Michael D. Jones from various correspondents such as Ioan Pedr, as well as essays and articles on the subject, collection books of the College, and also the original report in which the Deputies of the Bala and Bangor Colleges agree that the two colleges should unite, 1889. In addition, there is a series of denomination diaries belonging to Michael D. Jones and Prof Thomas Rhys of Bangor.

There are numerous letters to Michael D. Jones from the Welsh settlers in Patagonia or relating to them, prior to the sailing of the Mimosa and after. Amongst them is a letter from Charles de Gaulle, the eminent Breton and Celticist, expressing his interest in the scheme to found a Welsh colony in Patagonia. Also, amongst the correspondents are L. Patagonia Humphreys, Rev. D. Lloyd Jones, Rhuthun and Mihangel ap Iwan and Llwyd ap Iwan. The papers reflect the hardship suffered by the new settlers as well as the investment made by Michael D. Jones in the venture. There are bills and receipts relating to the Mimosa, share certificates, statistics regarding population for 1879. Also, a bank pass book of the Welsh Colonising and General Trading Company Ltd, 1870-1883, and a register of the Welsh applicants to Patagonia, 1875-1876.

Amongst the Llwyd ap Iwan documents there are three journals written by him whilst on prospecting and surveying expeditions to the foothills of the Andes, undertaken during the years 1888, 1893-4, 1897. They are full of interesting and fascinating descriptions of the changing Patagonian landscape, with observations on the fauna and flora of the region, all richly interspersed with racy accounts of adventures and incidents en route. There is a substantial amount of letters addressed to Llwyd ap Iwan from his father and other family members and friends as well as a photocopy of a letter describing his murder in detail.

Items which belong to other individuals include a diary for 1912 belonging to Mihangel ap Iwan, diaries belonging to Hugh Davies of Plas yn rhal, second husband of Mrs Michael D. Jones, an autobiography by Ap Vychan, 1849, a book of sermon notes belonging to Rev. Michael Jones, senior, ca. 1815 and a summary of the life of Rev. Abraham Matthews who was one of the first settlers in Patagonia.

Other miscellaneous items are papers relating to the building of Ramah Chapel, Llandderfel, Merioneth, 1869-1880, a group of documents on Hen Fwlch Chapel, in Newchurch, Carmarthenshire and a report and valuation on Bodiwan, the home of Michael D. Jones, made in 1870.

Administrative / Biographical History

Michael D. Jones was the son of the Rev. Michael Jones, Independent minister and first Principal of the Bala Independent College. Born in 1822, he himself followed in his father's footsteps and trained to become a minister. He visited the United States in 1847 and returned to Wales in 1850. He then succeeded his father as Principal of the Bala Independent College in 1854 where he stayed until 1892. According to The Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940, during his time as Principal, ...there developed the great battle known as the Battle of the Two Constitutions which resulted in the growth of personal antagonism between him and some of the leading men of his denomination.The party which supported M. D. Jones was called the party of the Old Constitution and the other the party of the New Constitution.

Michael D. Jones also played an important role in the scheme to establish a Welsh colony in Patagonia. He invested in the venture financially and made a great loss which resulted in the sale of his home, Bodiwan.

Michael D. Jones married Anne Lloyd who inherited the Plas yn rhal estate, Rhuthun. Their eldest son, Mihangel ap Iwan, emigrated and became a doctor in Buenos Ayres, Argentina. Their second son, Llwyd ap Iwan, also emigrated to South America. He was a surveyor by profession and met with a tragic death in 1909.


The papers have been received at different occasions and have, as a result, been catalogued separately and incorporated into the General Collection of Bangor Manuscripts. Where possible, they have been arranged according to subject and then chronologically.

Access Information

Open to all users.

Acquisition Information

Items 10552-11502 were presented to the University of Wales Bangor by Mr and Mrs Thomas ap Rhys of Green Bank, Bangor. The majority of the remaining items were presented by Mrs Myfanwy Rhys of Bangor, daughter of the Rev. Michael D. Jones.


Description compiled by Elen Wyn Hughes, March 2002.

Other Finding Aids

Item level typescript catalogues are available at the Archives Department of the University of Wales Bangor. Reference numbers: General Collection of Bangor Manuscripts: 6463-6475, 7224-7250, 7219, 7456-8060, 10502-10513, 10552-11502, 21128

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright conditions apply. Reprographics are made at the discretion of the Archivist.


Further unlisted material, consisting mainly of photographs, is held at the Archives Department of the University of Wales Bangor.

Related Material

For further related material, also held at the Archives Department of the University of Wales Bangor, consult the Bala-Bangor Manuscripts, Coetmor Papers and the Ioan Pedr Manuscripts on the Archives Hub


Roberts, Tomos, Democratiaeth Beryglus - Brwydr y Ddau Gyfansoddiad, Y Cofiadur, no. 61, May 1997, pp.3-11

Williams, R. Bryn, Y Wladfa (1962)